By Clayton Levins
Jerry Shawver had just finished a college algebra class at Florida Community College at Jacksonville’s Deerwood Center in 1988 when he walked into another class of students taking an algebra course.
He could tell they were struggling, so he stood in front of the room and began taking their questions.
He knew from that point on he wanted to teach.
For his efforts and passion at instruction, Shawver, a Jacksonville University alum and now professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville (formerly FCCJ), was recently named the 2012 Association of Florida Colleges Professor of the Year.
“The reason I got into teaching is the reason I still love what I do. I care if my students succeed,” said Shawver, who was presented the award at the November AFC state convention. “I want to be involved; I want them to learn and I want them to see the value in what they are learning.”
Shawver graduated from JU in 2001 with a Masters of Arts in Teaching with a major of Integrated Learning With Educational Technology, and also took graduate credit hours in JU’s mathematics department for two years after that.
While he’s taught math for about two decades, at Terry Parker High School and FSCJ, he says his first summer at JU changed his teaching philosophy forever.
“We took four classes all day for two months and really jumped right into a whole new way of teaching by integrating technologies and other disciplines,” he said. “After that summer I stayed completely engaged in this new approach to teaching students.”
In an email to Dr. Colleen Wilson, JU Associate Professor of Education, Shawver lauded the university’s instruction methods, singling out Wilson, former JU Education Professor June Main and former JU Mathematics Professor Marilyn Repsher for their efforts.
“Much of what I learned from JU is what got me there (to winning the state award),” he said. “My whole approach to teaching changed, and I thought that your school should share in the honor.”
A Jacksonville native and father of two daughters, Shawver is not only an FSCJ professor, but a trainer of mathematics education faculty nationwide and for the college’s Deerwood campus, where he mentors most of the online mathematics adjuncts. He’s written several math textbooks, built online courses and modified software products in the FSCJ math curriculum.
“Keeping the classroom student-centered, through student interactions, integrating technology and incorporating real-life applications is the simple philosophy of what I do,” he said.